Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

On the sixth day of donating…

Another organization that my students worked with this semester was the Lifesaving Society – BC & Yukon Branch. This Society has been around since 1911 and its mandate is “to reduce water-related death and injury”. So whether you are swimming in a pool or at the beach or you are out boating or going out on a frozen pond, the Lifesaving Society has resources for you. 

They offer all sorts of things, including swimming lessons, lifeguard training, first aid training, public education, research, and consultations. They also “establish aquatic safety standards and consult on aquatic safety issues for the aquatic industry, governments, and the judiciary”. 

Of the many program offered by the Lifesaving Society, he program that my students focused on was Swim to Survive, which provides learners with the opportunity to learn how to protect themselves in the water. 

International Life Saving Federation research findings from around the world offer clear evidence that teaching the survival swimming skills taught in Swim to Survive decreases drowning, potentially reducing the mortality and morbidity from aquatic incidents by 50%.

Lifesaving Society – BC & Yukon Branch

The Lifesaving Society – BC & Yukon Branch does not receive any provincial or federal government funding, so they rely on revenue from their courses and donations.

By

A Whole New WordPress

I logged into my blog tonight to write a posting and learned that there is a brand new version of WordPress, which is the open source software that I use to publish my blog. And it’s not just a usual little update with a few bug fixes – it’s a big change to how the WordPress editor works. Instead of just writing stuff in one big textbook like I used to, it’s now all down in different types of “blocks”.

So now instead of writing what I was going to write about1, I’m writing a post to play around with the new features2.

Like in this paragraph, I used a “drop cap” to create the giant “L” at the start of the paragraph, like one might see in a fancy book. Unfortunately, it looks totally ridiculous with the font my blog theme uses.

There’s also a new way to insert photos, so I’ve inserted this random photo of Watson & Crick exploring the inside of the dishwasher:

Kitties in the dishwasher
Although it’s a new way to insert a photo, it doesn’t seem like it will look any different when I post it on the blog.


Now I’m using a “quotation” block, just to see what that looks like. (When I preview the post, I can see it’s in italics, which isn’t how it looks in the editor. I think that’s because my theme has itaclics for quotations. But it looks better without the italics, to be honest).

-Dr. Beth Snow

This is a pull quote. I kind of like the look of this in the editor, but again when I preview, it’s in italics. Perhaps it’s time to change my theme?

It was really easy to change the colour on this though!

DR. BETH SNOW

There is also an option called a “cover”, which is a photo with writing on top of it. But it only seems to let  you choose a photo that you’ve uploaded to the same place where you store your blog, whereas I prefer to store all my photos in Flickr and use them from there. So here’s an example of a cover from one of the very few photos that I’ve actually stored with my blog rather than on Flickr:

This is a cover

There’s also a “gallery” where you can add a bunch of photos, but again, I have to store all the photos on the server where I store my blog, but I don’t want to pay to store a bunch of photos there when I already pay to store all my photos on Flickr. 

That button just takes you to my homepage, so it’s not very exciting. And it looks terrible, because the text is picking up the link colour (blue if you haven’t been to my homepage and purple if you have) from my theme – whereas on the editing screen it looks much nicer.3

But think of all the exciting places I could direct you to go, now that I have button creating powers!

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I can do with this (including changing the background and text colour in a block, apparently), but it’s getting late so I think I’ll leave that all to another day. Now to click “Publish” and see how this all really looks on the other side (though WP tells  me that it should look very similar to what I’m seeing in the editor screen, but when I previewed it did not!)

  1. I don’t even remember what I was going to write about, to be honest! []
  2.  Basically, what I’m saying is that this post will probably be of interest to no one, so you can save yourself the boredom and stop reading now. Assuming that you read the footnotes. Assuming that my footnotes plugin still works with this brave new WordPress…. oh wait, I just previewed the post and the footnotes do, in fact, appear to work. Hooray! []
  3. Perhaps I need to update my theme? []

By

How did I do on my 2017 goals?

Time to check in on how I did on my goals this year (spoiler alert: pretty bad!)

Successes:

  • Learn 12 new things (1 per month). I learned the following 12 things:
  1. Plumbing
  2. Folding a Fitted Sheet
  3. Strength training
  4. Sewing
  5. Growing Balcony Potatoes
  6. Politics
  7. Car Part
  8. Epigenetics
  9. Canning
  10. Short cuts
  11. Make-up expiry
  12. Brain rules
  • Establish a weight training program and actually do regular weight training, where “regular” = at least 2x per week for at least 3 out of 4 weeks per month. I totes kicked ass at this one – since joining Strong Side in March, I went to the gym 3x a week (with the exception of a two week period at the end of Oct/start of Nov when I was away and put my membership on hold).
  • Get gum graft surgery doneDone!
  • Make 17 new foods and/or drinks that I’ve never made before. Surpassed this goal!
  • Vague goal: Finish the letter of intent for mystery thing #2. The thing didn’t end up panning out, but I did finish the LOI.

Partially completed:

  • KonMari my condo I did most of the “clothing” category and then nothing else. I’m rolling this goal over to 2018.
  • Travel somewhere awesome. I did go to Washington, DC, which was cool, but I only got one day of sightseeing in and don’t think that qualifies as “awesome”.
  • Submit 5 papers for publication. I submitted one! And I have another that I just need to cut 100 words out of and then I can submit it (so that will be my first submission for 2018).
  • Vague goal: Finish the plan for mystery thing #1. Didn’t finish it, but did make some progress! Will be continuing to work on this in 2018.

Failures:

  • Do yoga at least 2x per week (either at home or in a class). I don’t think I did a single yoga session all year.
  • Get back to journalling regularly (where “regularly” = once a week). Nope.
  • Get a Nexus card. Been meaning to do that for a while.
  • Send an actual physical birthday card on time to all my family members and close friends. Nope.
  • Bring my lunch to work 80% of the time. I was tracking this in a Google spreadsheet and have the data from up to mid-way through Oct, when I was at a meagre 56%. But then there was some epic fail on the spreadsheet where it wasn’t saving my entries after that and I lost a couple of months worth of data and I have no idea which days I did or didn’t bring my lunch during that time. I’m guessing that I didn’t bring it above
  • Complete the 100 push up challenge. Didn’t bother with this because I’m doing my strength training programs at the gym.
  • Read 17 books. Four out of seventeen is so bad that I can’t even call this one “partially completed”. Just an epic fail!
  • Write 117 blog postings! When I hit “publish” on this posting, I’ll have published 92 blog postings this year – 97 if you count the 5 I wrote on my “professional” blog. And since I don’t have it in my to write 20 blog postings this evening, I’m accepting this as a fail and a reminder to be more diligent with blogging next year!

And that’s going to be it for my 2017 blogging. Have a great NYE everyone and see you next year!

 

By

Stuff I Learned This Year: Brain Edition

I went to a couple of conferences this year and learned a tonne of stuff at them, but in the interest of not boring you to tears with things that are very interesting to evaluators and probably no one else, I’m just going to tell you about one of the things that I learned from one of the keynote speakers: John Medina, developmental molecular biologist who focuses on genes that are expressed in the human brain. He wrote a book called “Brain Rules” that is totally on my list of books to read in the new year. He was giving a keynote about how to give effective lectures – i.e., lectures that will actually be interesting to, and hold the attention of, the audience and will make it more likely that they will remember the stuff you are teaching them.

He talked about how our brains are constantly on the look out for things that it should pay attention to and things that it need not pay attention to. Remembering that our brains “evolved to solve problems related to surviving in an outdoor setting in varying meteorological environments while in constant motion”1, it makes sense that it is wired to pay attention to things that would promote survival in that context. The human brain processes meaning before it processes details , as you don’t really want your brain to be paying attention to how many teeth that sabre tooth tiger has before it thinks about the meaning of that mouth full of sabre tooth tiger teeth2. So, what does “meaning” mean in this context? Basically, when you observe something, the brain asks the following 6 questions, in the following order, to determine if something is worth paying attention to:

  1. Will it eat me? [i.e., is it a threat?)
  2. Can I eat it? [i.e., is it a resource I can use?]
  3. Can I have sex with it? [i.e., a potential reproductive opportunity?]
  4. Will it have sex with me? [i.e., a potential reproductive opportunity?]
  5. Have I seen it before? [i.e., pattern recognition]
  6. Have I never seen it before? [i.e., surprise]

Since these are the things that catch the attention of brains, he suggested starting lectures with anecdotes that use one of these six ways of catching the audience’s attention3 and showing them why what you are talking about is meaningful. As well, since we have relatively short attention spans, you should also use these to re-engage the audience about every 10 minutes of so.

There was a tonne more that I learned from his lecture and I’m definitely going to read his book. And then I’ll probably have to re-write every lecture that for the courses that I teach before the next time I teach them!

  1. I took pretty good notes in this keynote, so caught that quotation verbatim. []
  2. I didn’t catch that quote verbatim, but that was another of his points! []
  3. Though I think numbers 3-4 probably wouldn’t be appropriate for most lectures! []

By

Christmas Eve

Putting aside all critiques about Uber and their various bad practices, this made me laugh tonight:

Reindeer Uber

By

NaBloPoMo – Day 19 – O Christmas Tree

Scott and I put up the Christmas tree tonight! The cats helped, where by “helped” I mean jumped in the box as we opened it and tried to climb in the tree. Crick put her favourite toy under the tree, which can only mean she thinks it’s a gift.

Christmas tree 2017In unrelated news, I scored the game winning goal in my hockey game today. It’s a Christmas-tree-putting-up-day miracle!

By

NaBloPoMo Day 9 – Conferences are exhausting

Brain so full! So many good ideas to apply to my work, new tools to try out, new things to read, etc. And there’s still two more days!

By

Nerd Stats 2016

Another year goes by, another row gets added to my table of nerd stats. The stats for 2016 are up until the time of publishing this (i.e., on the afternoon of Dec 31), because I’m going out for NYE tonight so won’t be sitting around counting up the remaining nerd stats. Except for the # of blog postings – I have included this one plus one more that I’ll post after this for a total of 116 – the exact number of my goal for this year.

Blog postings Tweets1 Visits to my blog Average number of blog visits per day Busiest day on my blog
2008 423 2,227 32,410 93 Sept 26, 2008 (460 views)
2009 357 1,815 45,153 126 July 25, 2009 (1,181 views)
2010 344 2,302 44,689 122 Feb 9, 2010 (233 views)
2011 380 3,625 60,560 166 Oct 10, 2011 (374 views)
2012 201 875 63,844 175 Feb 13, 2012 (350 views)
2013 213 945 46,665 128 Sept 4, 2013 (721 views)
2014 91 910 33,948 93 Mar 7, 2014 (208 views)
2015 118 800 34,930 96 Nov 23, 2015 (512 views)
2016 116  812  51,549  141 Jan 29, 2016 (13,968 views)
% change from 2015 -1.7% +1.5% +47.6% +46.9% +2,628%

My amount of blogging and tweeting were pretty much the same as last year, but blog views were substantially above 2015, predominantly due to a record breaking nearly 14,000 blog views on Jan 29. Almost all of those were views of a small posting I did back in 2010 about the fine print on a can of Red Bull. I haven’t the vaguest idea why.

  1. Note to self: You started Tweeting in 2008, so you get these totals by simple subtraction, not by some fancy pants program or anything. I hope this helps you when you write your “Nerd Stats 2017″ posting when you think “how the hell did I figure out how many times I tweeted in a given year??” []

By

Heels

As a 5 ft tall woman, I’ve grown accustomed to wearing heels so that I can walk amongst the normal height people and only look very, very short, as opposed to the very, very, very, very short that I actually am. As a shoeaholic (a trait I inherited from my mother), I have an extensive selection of heels. But I haven’t worn a pair of heels since June!

When I sprained my ankle, I figured it was pretty sensible to wear flats. Fortunately it was summer and I have a few pairs of sandals that are nice enough to wear to work. And since I’d read that when you sprain your ankle, you are at an increased risk of re-spraining it for 3-6 months afterwards, I figured as a precaution I should stick to flats for awhile even after my ankle felt better.

And then my hip problem happened. So I’ve continued to not wear heels, given the limping and the cane and, though I am now on the mend, I’m not 100% and so I don’t want to re-aggregate it. But here’s the thing: it’s no longer summer, so I can’t wear my sandals. I really only have one pair of work-appropriate flats and then are burgundy, so they don’t go with everything (I have one pair of black shoes that have a platform with a slight heel that I do wear sometimes because it feels more stable than a regular heel). Three of my four pairs of work-appropriate boots (plus my one pair of ankle boots) are heeled. And last night I slipped on my way home from dinner and when I got home and took off my one pair of work-appropriate flat boots, I noticed this.

I don't think these are going to be waterproof anymore

Somehow I don’t think these will be waterproof anymore

I think it’s time to go shoe shopping.

By

Introducing My New Cleaning Crew

So, Andrew is something of a neat freak1,2 and suggested that perhaps I should clean my algae-adorned frog tank more often than once a century. And while I sort of agreed in principle – i.e, I agreed with the notion that the frog tank should be cleaned, but disagreed with the notion that *I* should personal do any more cleaning than is absolutely necessary. So I have decided to outsource this work to three otocinclus catfish.

Untitled

One of my three new ottos

These little guys are algae-eaters who can happily co-habit with Tyrion Froggister, Copernicus the Third, and Timbit.

The only thing they need now are names. My initial thought was to call them Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar, but I feel like it’s a little too trendy and once the PokéCraze is over the names will seem dated. So if anyone has ideas of a better trio after whom to name them, I’m willing to take suggestions3

Untitled

Three little otto fish!

  1. Given this, why he’s dating me is something of a mystery. []
  2. He’s an accountant, so this is to be expected, I suppose. []
  3. Except Larry, Curly, & Moe. That’s a non-starter. []